Everything starts with an idea: coming up with an idea of a new product or developing an existing one. And the scenario is always the same. If you want to create something outstanding, you need to hire professionals. Even if you have an in-house dev team, you probably need at least a few more talents to manage the whole project and finally make it work.
After a quick reflection over a few options, you will have to choose between hiring a freelancer (or, more likely, an entire group of individuals) or an agency. It’s a really difficult choice to make even for the highly skilled entrepreneurs. Not to mention the struggling soon-to-be business people and startup owners…
Don’t you worry, though. Here we are, lending you a helping hand! We want to make this decision a bit easier for you by highlighting the key differences between freelancers and consulting agencies.
Freelancer vs. Agency: Legal Issues
The first and the most fundamental is the difference between their legal personalities. This entails different kinds of responsibilities and risks.
Freelancers are natural persons, that is, private individuals who perform work based on civil law agreements, usually with no obligation of paying additional taxes. Sounds appealing, doesn’t it? But the fact is that such a freelancing specialist can, all of a sudden, disappear from the market without any trace. Before hiring one, you should do at least a basic background check, calling some of the freelancer’s previous clients and asking about their opinion. It will help you avoid many possible problems.
Agencies are legal entities, and they offer much more stable and less risky cooperation thanks to that. You can always check the track record of a company in external databases or simply ask for its financial record. Remember to do that! What’s equally handy, an agency will take care of all documents required for you to start cooperating. You don’t have to prepare any contracts. Just read carefully and sign (or not) what you’ve been provided with.
Freelance vs. Agency: Work Organization
The way a contractor organizes their work is of paramount importance. Your entire project will depend on it. Just see why:
When a freelancer gets sick, decides to go on vacation or has an emergency, the project will come to a standstill. You cannot take any step further unless the previous stage is completed. You will waste a lot of time looking for someone else, and in consequence, you will also spend a lot of money doing that. What is more, with freelancers, the client is practically hiring a team that have to manage themselves and it’s always a struggle to find more great people. In the case of an agency. It's the agency's job to take care of that considerable overhead and to provide you with the option of scaling up the team whenever you need it. Expect the same sort of a conundrum, when you aren’t satisfied with the freelancer’s work…
In a professional agency, it is the project manager’s job to anticipate any possible glitches. To expect the unexpected and still meet the deadlines. If you’re not pleased with the quality of work, you can always ask for changes, and they should be introduced quickly and smoothly. When you hire an agency, you can be sure that the team have worked together before. A team of freelancers, on the other hand, need to learn to work together first – wasting a lot of productive time before they become good at it and cooperate efficiently. That’s what teamwork is all about! This and proper planning, obviously.
However, in terms of work organization, the available talent is not the only benefit of cooperating with an agency. When you develop your product, you are probably concerned about its future – leaving it alone right after the launch is not an option, is it? So if you want to maintain the project in the future, you need to have clear documentation, and people who are capable of taking care of bug-fixing and code-updating. It is highly unlikely that a freelancer would leave you any documents afterwards. And further maintenance will be outside the scope of their interests. With an agency, you will be able to get back to them whenever you decide to evolve. Moreover, you’ll be able to enjoy a comprehensive solution: from the idea, through the design and into the backend and frontend development. As long as you need such a complex delivery, of course.
Freelance vs. Agency: Pricing
There’s no point in beating around the bush – freelancers usually represent a budget option. It can be very appealing, especially when you’re starting and waiting for some precious funding. The business model of an agency, by contrast, requires that they add markup to the cost of every service so that they can generate profit as a corporation.
You can never be sure, though, that hiring a bunch of freelancers will be as low-cost as it seemed at the beginning. If you face any of the problems we mentioned above (e.g. any kind of an emergency), this option may turn out to be extremely expensive.
Hiring a professional agency can be (and probably will be) costly, but on the other hand, you’re getting good value for money. The quality/price ratio is truly invaluable. Besides, the agency can save a lot of your time because you don’t have to lead and micromanage a freelance team. You can fully focus on other tasks, and you will be regularly updated on the progress of your project, so you can intervene if need be.
Freelance vs. Agency: Goals and Branding
A freelancer will strive to finish the project as quickly as possible. You’ll be thrilled if you’re in a hurry! But, more often than not, they don’t make brands out of their names. There’s simply no need, as they usually don’t want to maintain long-term relations with their clients. In effect, when something goes wrong, a freelancer can just give up and – puff! – they are gone.
No self-respecting agency would ever do that. Building trustworthy relations with clients is an inherent part of the branding process and cannot be neglected. The agency will do everything to successfully launch your project because every little failure might be the nail in its coffin. Remember that the final success is in the mutual interest of both you and them.
Choose wisely and make every cooperation as profitable as you can!